longing for the office

More or less officially, I am out of work. I had a contract job as a proofreader at an advertising agency; they wanted me full time, and to run the department. I said I can only do part-time! They took me on, anyway. When I didn’t change my mind about working for them full-time, they went ahead and hired someone full-time, but told me that I’d stay on part-time. Except, as it turns out, there are no great and greasy gobs of extra proofreading work to be thrown my way, so after a couple of weeks of “not yet! start your part-time schedule next week!” I have been officially told that there is no work for me, and they’ll call me when that changes. If it changes.

I’ve got some proofreading jobs that I do at home in my underpants, and I am pursuing some Leads, vis a vis some more writing jobs which I would also perform in my underpants. I’m terrified down to those underpants about how my income has gone from steady-and-reliable to someday-you’ll-see-a-check, maybe, and so I’ve been looking at job boards andcraigslist and the paper and wringing my hands and worrying about paying my absolutely insane gas bill and making my rent and meeting my car payments which are enormous and terrible.

All of these are good reasons to have a job that is steady, and reliable and outside the house, even though what I really want to do is pursue a freelance career, work for myself, write for a living, connect with people and make a living doing something I believe in and think is important and good and does something good and keeps my carbon footprint all little and cute because I am not commuting to work or buying disposable paper cups full of coffee and danishes wrapped in wads of tissue paper and packaged in bags with an entire box of napkins that used to be a tree. Inside my heart keeps thrumming the words SAFETY SECURITY RELIABILITY PANIC PANIC PANIC, and that is because I do not trust myself to actually be smart enough, talented enough, brave enough and go-gettering enough to make my own way in the world.

But also, I miss the structure. I miss the people. I miss the clothes. I do. I am a person who has, in the past, been embarrassingly famous for her kind of sad reluctance to put on pants and leave the house (depression, anxiety, bone-deep laziness, bake at 350 degrees, serve warm). But I realized, recently, that since the end of my office job back in December, I have not worn a skirt, put on makeup, done my hair, had lunch with someone who isn’t my cat and a conversation with someone that wasn’t overIM or email. My days are me in my apartment (and I love my apartment) with my cat (and I love my cat) in pajamas or yoga pants. I haven’t dressed up. Back when I was still financially solvent I splashed out on this ridiculously awesome tweed pencil skirt with moths stenciled on it and it is sexy and fabulous and I thought I’d wear it to the office and instead it’s been folded over its hanger for a month, now. I miss having a place to go, and a purpose, and a goal, and being pretty.

I could wear heels to walk the dog, I suppose. I could put on a dress and lipstick go down to the coffee shop and type very busily at a table and pretend like I’m very a busy and important businesswoman. I could make grocery shopping a formal occasion, and reading a celebration and working on my novel a black-tie affair. I could put on lipstick, at the very least, even if I’m staying on the couch, under the electric blanket. But I still miss what I guess is the social environment. The people I was working with in specific, because they were awesome people, but also just–people. A few weeks back the guy who owns the CD store invited me to apply for a job with him. And now I’m tempted–for the cash, for the people, for the opportunity to sellRadiohead CDs while wearing a ballgown.

photo by giant ginkgo

18 Replies to “longing for the office”

  1. My freelance-work-from-home wardrobe is pretty similar. I’m not sure whether I should be embarrassed to admit this or not, but when I had to attend a funeral last winter, a teensy weensy wee little part of me was glad for an opportunity to wear fancy clothes.

  2. Take the job at the music store! You’ll get the best kind of social interactions- they’ll be about music! You’ll learn about music and teach about music. You’ll get a steady paycheck and may even be able to have a say in what your hours will be. You never know who you’ll meet in a CD store too, generally the music junkies are creative types, and that can be good for networking and helping with your writing endeavors. Not to mention, you can get dressed up and look all hot for a few hours a day.

  3. Oh I know!!! I have all these pretty dresses and fancy shoes and you can’t wear them to get your oil changed. I wish people still dressed up fancy to go to the movies.

  4. I only work in an office Monday through Thursday but had to go in for a little while this morning. I realized I had a really productive day just because I was up and out of the house at a decent hour. I KNOW I’m someone who needs structure. And I also enjoy dressing for work.
    A music store job would be an amazing source of writing fodder for you!

  5. Punchy, I dress up to go to the movies! I dress up to go everywhere. I have too many pairs of shoes not to.

    And you know, maybe I will call the music store guy.

  6. Lillowen,

    De-lurking to say that I work from home, too. Your funeral comment made me laugh out loud. I had to go to a viewing last Monday evening and wore ridiculously inappropriate boots because I hadn’t been anywhere “nice” in a while and was just looking for an excuse.

  7. You’ve just verbalized my exact fears about pursuing a freelance career.

    And I agree with Kristen – even if the CD store job has nothing to do with anything, it’ll get you out for a while, give you a little steady cash, and a reason to dress.

  8. Having a job is very nice. It’s not just about the peace of mind (although that’s a huge stress-relief). It’s always given me a little kick to know that if I wanted to do something, like buy myself an insanely expensive pair of shoes or go on a super crazyass vacation, I could save up and do it MYSELF. It might take me a very long time of adding up tiny increments of money, depending on what it is I wanted, but the point is that I could do it for myself. It’s part of this whole self-sufficiency thing. It’s empowering, and all that… :)

    You know, that poem that goes, “…It matters not how strait the gate, nor charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul…” For whatever reason, having the wherewithal to pay for some extras above and beyond just getting by makes me a lot less anxious and makes me feel so much more in control of my life.

    (Is that poem “Invictus”…?)

  9. Invictus, yes! William Ernest Henley. When I was young, I wanted to get that poem as a tattoo. A secret sentimental part of me still kind of wants to.

    I still haven’t called the music store guy! Or gotten to dress up for any funerals. But I am feeling kind of empowered by the writing I’ve been doing, and it has been really nice.

  10. I am on a 5-day furlough this week and I consider it sort of a test-drive to see if I could cope with a freelance career. Not crazy and smelly yet, but it’s only day 1.

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